Photos from places // Killin, Scotland

I had a few days off work at the beginning of the week which just so happened to coincide with a family member’s birthday. So, naturally, I took the opportunity to travel up to visit them and spend a few days with family I haven’t seen since I was back in Scotland for Christmas. It was so lovely to see them all again – and clearly miracles do happen, because it was 25 degrees and sunny!! Anyone who’s ever been to Scotland will know how rare days like that are in these parts.

I recently got a new phone because the contract on my old one expired when I was out in Spain and I thought I’d take advantage of my day and a half away to test out its camera, so here are a few of the photos I took during my stay.

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If you look carefully, you can almost see the sun in this one…
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Falls of Dochart

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ABCs of Travel Tag

Bolaoyebade at travelnoire recently nominated me for the ABCs of Travel Tag, so I’d like to give her a massive thank you for giving me the opportunity to think back on some of the amazing trips I’ve been on over the years. I haven’t been following her blog for very long, but every post I’ve read I’ve really enjoyed!

So without further ado, let’s get on with the tag…

Age you went on your first international trip

Although my family and I are Scottish, I wasn’t actually born in Scotland – I was born in Hong Kong when my parents were living and working there….so I guess you could say birth?! I think (Mum, please correct me if I’m wrong on this) I went on my first international trip back to the UK to see family when I was 6 weeks old.

Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where

I didn’t actually start drinking alcohol until my year abroad in Spain that I’m just back from, so I’m gonna have to say Cruzcampo.

Cuisine (favourite)

As a Brit, I think I’m contractually obliged to say that I love a good roast dinner.

Destinations – favourite, least favourite, and why

My favourite destination has to be Costa Rica. I went for a month between my fifth and final year of secondary school with four other pupils and it was amazing!! We spent a week on a turtle preservation sanctuary helping build accommodation and research the baby turtles, another week living with indigenous people in the mountains improving sanitation in a local school, and another week trekking through the rainforest, with some days off in between to relax. It was honestly an incredible experience that I would love to repeat (especially now I can actually speak Spanish).

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Chocolate and Pecan Brownies

Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m not much of a baker. I love to cook, but baking has always been a little too precise for my haphazard ways in the kitchen (just ask my sister who has to order me about whenever we bake together). But a friend of mine introduced me to this brownie recipe when we were in Spain and we made these tasty brownies quite a lot together without any major disasters. So now I’m home, I wanted to try them out for myself to see how it went. I’m super proud of myself because this is the first time I’ve ever successfully baked anything alone!

The recipe I used made 9 big brownies and was adapted from here, but I altered it a little by leaving out the bananas. Following the recipe below, the brownies contain dairy and gluten and aren’t vegan friendly, but in Spain we always made them with chickpea flour (gluten-free) and they tasted just as good!

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Places to eat // Tantrum Doughnuts, Glasgow

In the Yorkhill neighbourhood of Glasgow’s West End, there’s a doughnut shop I’d been wanting to go to ever since it opened less than two years ago. I didn’t get a chance to go before going on my year abroad, but now I’m back it was top of my list of places to try, so my friend B and I took the opportunity to combine a long-due catch up with our mutual love of all things sweet and visit Tantrum Doughnuts earlier this week. You’ll find Tantrum Doughnuts on Old Dumbarton Road, very close to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum; it’s just a little bit along the road from the Finnieston area of the West End and is very easily accessible by public transport and on foot from the city centre.

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Markets and Mosaics // A day trip to Santiponce

For my last Saturday in Alcalá (side note: how did that happen?!?), my friend and I decided to take a day trip to Santiponce to visit the ruins of the ancient Roman city Italica. Now, neither of us had heard a thing about Italica prior to coming here, so don’t be surprised if you also have no clue what I’m talking about. In fact, the only reason I knew about Italica was because one of my schools had gone on a couple of trips there.

As we’re both fans of an early start, we got the bus from Alcalá into Sevilla at 8:10 in the morning and made our way from San Bernardo up into the centre of town. Last Friday (as in the week before the trip to Italica) we’d tried to go and visit the Basilica de Macarena but failed quite spectacularly by timing our visit to coincide pretty much perfectly with both evening Masses (oops), so we decided to two birds one stone it and visit the Basilica in the morning before going to catch the bus to Italica on the Saturday. The church was quite special inside, so if you find yourself with some time to kill in that part of the city I’d recommend a visit…but maybe not during Mass. After having visited the church we made our way to Plaza de Armas via Feria market where we picked up some supplies for a picnic lunch.

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A day in Osuna.

After the madness that was Feria last week, this weekend I decided to chill out a little bit with a nice relaxing day trip to Osuna, a small town in Sevilla province. A few Spaniards had recommended it to me and I’d been wanting to visit it for a while, so on Saturday I decided to make the most of the slightly cooler weather (25/26 degrees instead of more than 30) and make a day of it with my friend who lives here in Alcalá.

The day got off to an early start  because we’d arranged to meet at the main bus stop in town at 7am so we could catch the bus into the city (unfortunately there are no direct buses between Alcalá and Osuna). This meant I’d set my alarm for 5:30am because it takes me forever to get ready to go anywhere as I’m so slow (and this is made about a million times worse when it’s early in the morning and I’m not properly woken up yet). But anyway, I made it to the bus stop just before 7 and, as there was a bus there waiting, I thought I’d hop on and wait for my friend on the bus itself. Mistake. As soon as I’d sat down the bus started moving…without my friend on it. Turns out that because of the Feria (which has only just finished – say what you want about them, but the people here do know how to party) the buses had been running behind, and the bus I ended up catching was the 6:40 bus that left 15-20 minutes late. As it turned out, what could have been an absolute disaster ended up working out alright because my friend caught the 7:10 bus we’d initially planned on getting and arrived at San Bernardo in Sevilla about 10 minutes after I did.

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All the fun of the Feria // part two

If you read my last post, you’ll already know about all the preparations that went into finding me an outfit to go to the Feria de Abril in Sevilla this year. This post is more about what happened on the day itself and what I thought of the whole experience.

Now, as I said before, the Feria as it is today is definitely not the modest agricultural fair it started out life as back in 1847. These days the Feria takes place in a part of the city that is, essentially, completely empty for the year until the week of Feria comes around. And when the Feria does come around, it doesn’t do so by halves – no, no, this is a MASSIVE event (in both the literal and metaphorical sense). Just to give you a sense of scale, the real de la feria covers an area of 1km2 or even more, the portada (or entrance gate to the Feria) is around 50m tall, and there are over 1000 casetas (think marquee tents, each with its own bar, seating area, and stage for dancing on). Yup. It’s big. And it’s definitely a BIG event in the social calendar here in Sevilla too. And if you know the right kind of people, you can get a coveted invite to one of the private casetas. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy yourself without an invite, because there are a lot of public casetas too and a huge amusement park (for lack of a better term) with food and drink stalls that is, appropriately called Calle de Infierno, or Hell Street (ha!).

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All the fun of the Feria // part one

Picture the scene… me: embarrassed and awkward as always, frantically jumping trouser-less around my hall, trying my best to pull a flamenco skirt borrowed from a teacher over my thighs and hips (think I’ve inherited my Granny’s jeans genes there – the love for cake is strong in my family!). The teacher in question is there too trying to help, and we’re both laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of it all. A few minutes and a lot of stretching later, and I’m zipped in to the skirt. Barely able to walk, sit down, or breathe, but finally in the skirt. The skirt I’ll be wearing to the Feria de Abril in Sevilla the following day.

The Feria as it is known today has come a long way from its humble origins as an agricultural fair. First held in 1847 from the 18th – 20th of April at Prado de San Sebastián, the Feria nowadays is a week-long party held in Los Remedios, a neighbourhood on the other side of the Guadalquivir from the city centre. And, as a student of Spanish culture, I thought it would be silly not to take the opportunity to experience it this year while I’m here!

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